Fr. John Bauer

Rector and Pastor
Clergy

Serves on the Parish Council, Finance Committee, Stewardship Council and as a member of The Basilica Landmark Board.  Fr. Bauer led the successful merger of 3 parishes (St.Therese, St. Gregory, St. Leo) to become the new Lumen Christi in St. Paul, and completed their major building expansion.  Former Pastor of St. Therese, Deephaven and Associate at St. Patrick’s in Edina. 

(612) 317-3502

Recent Posts by Fr. John Bauer

This past August, Fr. Greg Welch, one of our weekend presiders, sent me a link to a story from “CBSN: On Assignment.” The opening sentence of the story indicated that “With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” In Iceland, close to 100 percent of those women who received a positive test of Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy. Unfortunately, other countries don’t lag far behind in pregnancy termination rates for those who received a positive test for Down syndrome. The report also stated that “according to the most recent data available, the United States has an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67 percent (1995-2011).” 
 
One Icelandic health care professional, when asked about the high rate of pregnancy termination rates for those who have received a positive test for Down syndrome, said: “We don’t look at abortion as murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication …. preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as murder—that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.” 
 
Now certainly, the human condition is no stranger to suffering, and efforts to alleviate suffering are laudable. But we all know Down syndrome children and adults who live happy, productive lives. In fact, it’s safe to say that many lives are enriched when we experience the zest and resilience with which those with Down syndrome face life, despite any limitations it brings. Given this, I think it is fundamentally wrong to say that aborting Down syndrome babies prevents suffering. Further, from my perspective, the fact that the health care professional used the words “possible life,” demonstrates the fundamental flaw in their reasoning. In this regard, we need to be clear. Other than nutrients, nothing further is added to the fetus to make life. It isn’t “possible life.” It is life—plain and simple. 
 
The great lie to the above way of thinking is that children with Down syndrome are somehow inferior and undeserving of life. Quite frankly this is wrong. Life—all life—from the moment of conception to natural death is sacred: no exceptions, no exclusions, no qualifications. The sacred image we bear exists from the moment of our conception. We don’t grow into it. It cannot diminish with age. It is bestowed on us by the gracious favor of a loving God. Created in the image and likeness of God, and infused with a soul that seeks to know and love God, all human life is sacred and is to be respected. 
 
For many years now our Church has designated October as Respect Life Month. During this month particularly, we are called to remember and give witness to our belief that life—in all stages of development and in all its manifestations—is a gracious gift from a loving God. There are no qualifications or limitations to this belief. Because God is the author and source of life, all life is sacred. Our task, our challenge is to seek to promote and enhance life at every moment and in every circumstance. 
 
Human life is indeed a precious gift from a loving God. As followers of Jesus, we are called to show our respect and reverence for life in all we do. To the extent we fail to do this, we fail to give witness to our respect for life. To the extent that we do it well, however, we truly live up to our calling as people created in the image and likeness of God. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100817.cfm

Some scripture scholars suggest that today’s Gospel parable may represent an allegorization of another of Jesus’ parables by one of the early Christian communities.   The parable of tenants rejecting the many messengers (i.e. the prophets) sent by the owner of the vineyard (God) would have supported this belief.   In suggesting this, of course, these scholars are not in any way questioning that it is not the inspired word of God.  Rather, they suggest that the early Christian community had begun to see itself as replacing Israel as God’s chosen people.   Regardless of the origins of this parable, though, it contains a powerful and ever current message.   It invites us to consider how we respond to the many overtures and/or messengers God sends into our lives. 

As an important aside, we need to be clear that the Catholic Church does not teach that God has rejected Israel or that its election as God’s chosen people has ended.  “The Church cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in his inexpressible mercy deigned to establish the Ancient Covenant.”    (The Documents of Vatican II   Decree on Non Christians)    Our Church also teaches, though, that Jesus Christ, “the Lord, is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearnings.”  (Documents of Vatican II; Decree on The Church Today)

Our first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, shares the theme of the Gospel.  It speaks of a vineyard that, despite the loving care of its owner, yielded only “wild grapes.”  In the Old Testament the “Vineyard” was a symbol for God’s people.   

In our second reading today from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Paul reminds us that by prayer and petition and thanksgiving we will come to know “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”

Questions for reflection: 

  1. Looking back on your life can you see times when you have not recognized or perhaps even rejected messengers of God’s presence and grace?
  2. Who have been messengers of God’s presence and grace in your life?   
  3. In regard to this weekend’s second reading have there been times in your life when you have experienced the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding?”   

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100117.cfm​ 


“Actions speak louder than words” is the phrase that comes to mind whenever I read our Gospel for this Sunday 

Many years ago I worked with an individual who was very amiable and most pleasant whenever we discussed an issue or concern in their work area.   They would agree to a certain course of action, or they would agree to follow through on something and then ………………… nothing.   

Actually there was something:  excuses, rationalizations, and promises to do better next time.   Unfortunately when the next time came the same thing would happen.  We would talk; they would agree on what needed to be done; and then ………………………………… nothing. 

In our Gospel for this Sunday a father asks both of his sons to go and work in his vineyard.   The first one said no, but eventually changed his mind and went.   The second one said he would go to the vineyard, but didn’t.  This story reminds us that there needs to be a correspondence between our actions and our words.   It is easy to say the right thing.   It is much harder to say and then do the right thing.  And even though the first son eventually did as his father had requested, it took him a while to get it right.  

In our first reading this Sunday from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, we are reminded that if a person “turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life………..”

Our second reading today continues the theme of the Gospel that there needs to be a correspondence between our words and our actions.  St. Paul entreats the Philippians: “………. complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for their own interests, but also for those of other……….. Have in you the same attitude that is also in Jesus Christ.”   

Thoughts/Questions for Reflection:

  1. When have your words been bold, while your actions have been inadequate?  What were the consequences?   
  2. In the scriptures, Jesus seemed to focus a lot of time and energy on two different groups:  The Pharisees, and the Tax Collectors and Prostitutes.   Why do you think that was?  
  3. In regard to the second reading, what does it mean for you to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ?    
Sacred Heart of Jesus statue, Basilica of St. Mary

A Time for Hope

A few months ago while driving to a friend’s cabin, I drove past a couple of houses that had been abandoned, and appeared ready to be demolished. The windows that remained had been broken, the doors had been removed from their hinges, and the grass around the houses was overgrown. It was clear at a glance that those houses would never again be home to anyone. I slowed down as I drove past, hoping to get a sense or an indication of how they had come to such a sorry state, but I quickly realized they were simply empty and abandoned, with no indication of why. They certainly had a past, but there was no future for them. 

As I continued on to my friend’s cabin, I couldn’t help but think about these houses. There must have been excitement and happiness at their beginning. Clearly someone had made them their home. Perhaps the people who lived in them had dreams and expectations of a bright future. Perhaps they even had hopes that the houses would provide shelter and security for a lifetime. Yet, at some point things changed. The houses that once were new and fresh began to age and show signs of deterioration. And as the years went by, the lack of care and attention began to take its toll until finally they ended up abandoned, and waiting to be demolished. At some point the optimism and excitement with which these houses had been built had faded and eventually died. 

As I reflected on this, I wondered what could have happened to cause the dreams with which these houses had been built to die. I suppose it was possible that their owners had simply grown old and tired, and were unable to maintain them. Perhaps, though, a tragedy or an unexpected chain of events had led to their disrepair. Whatever the reason, the hope with which they were built had died and the result was a sad and sorry end for them. 

Hope is not just a good thing, it is essential for life to survive and flourish. More importantly for us as Christians, hope is an absolutely necessary virtue in our lives. As Christians, hope calls us to believe that there is something beyond this world. This belief does not come from mere desire or longing on our part. Rather it finds its roots in Jesus’ promise: 

I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if they die, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” 

When I was in grade school I remember having to memorize the Act of Hope —along with the Acts of Faith and Love. While I didn’t remember the exact words to the Act of Hope, when I looked it up, the words came back to me. 

O my God, relying on Your infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of your grace, and life everlasting, though the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.” 

Given all that is going on in our world today, this simple prayer seems increasingly important. For now—perhaps more than ever—is a time when we need hope. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092417.cfm

It’s not fair!   Growing up in a family of seven (five boys and two girls) these words were common in our house.   They were automatic response to every perceived injustice or sense of preferential treatment.   I suspect these words were on the lips of the laborers in today’s Gospel parable.   This parable, found only in Matthew’s Gospel, tells the familiar story of a landowner who went out at various times throughout the day to hire laborers for his vineyard.   When it came time to pay the laborers, however, those who were hired late in the day received the same pay as those “who had bore the day’s burden and heat.”  This just doesn’t seem fair.

In order to understand what this parable has to say to us, we need to remember that parables are simple stories that Jesus used to tell us something about God or about our relationship with God.   They were not meant to be taken literally.   Rather, they challenge us to ask what they are telling us about God.  In today’s parable we are reminded that salvation is freely offered by God to all people, regardless of when they arrive in the vineyard of faith.   Such is the way of God.   It is certainly different from the way we often act.   And when you stop and think about it, isn’t that good for us.   

Our fist reading today shares the theme of the Gospel.  In it God, speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, reminded the people that “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”   

After reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans for the past twelve Sunday’s, today we switch to St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.   In the section we read today Paul acknowledges that he would like “to depart this life and be with Christ.”  He also realizes, though, that for now it is “more necessary for their benefit” that he remain in this world.

Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 

  1. Many people believe that only a limited number will be saved.   Today’s parable would seem to argue against this.  Why do you think God is so generous and undiscriminating with God’s love and offer of salvation?
  2. Have you ever experienced that God’s ways are not your ways?   
  3. We all live with the hope of heaven, yet we know that we are all put on this earth for a purpose.  How do you know when you have accomplished your purpose?

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